Podcast: Joe Smith on a Tough 2019 Season, Flat Pedals, Arm Pump and More

Dec 4, 2019
by Downtime Podcast  
Mat Weale Photo

Words Chris Hall: Photo Mat Weale


This week on the Downtime Podcast I’m joined by Joe Smith. In 2019, Joe had what he himself describes as a tough season, and that leaves him in the tricky position of not currently having a spot on a team for 2020. This episode goes to show how tough it can be to make a living out of this sport, and how much pressure the riders are under to perform. We cover Joe’s career so far, including his love for flat pedals, his struggles with arm pump, having team mates like Sam Hill and Sam Blenkinsop, and plenty more. So hit play, sit back and enjoy this chat with Joe Smith.

You can also listen by searching for ‘Downtime Podcast’ on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Podcasts, by asking Alexa, or over on our website www.downtimepodcast.com/joe-smith/ and you can follow us on Instagram @downtimepodcast


37 Comments

  • 4 0
 @basalt In terms of your fingers hurting. It sounds obvious, but the vertical angle of your brake levers can help this a lot, if you have them pointing too far down or up, it can put extra strain on your fingers when trying to brake. For example, if you are riding steeper stuff, and having to get over the back of the bike a little more, having them positioned higher up should help the pain.
  • 2 0
 Agreed, but also too flat an angle will make you roll your wrists back. That will totally cause arm pump in the top side of your forearms! Got to find that sweet spot...
  • 3 0
 Rock climbing works great for me, or you can use a hangboard. My fingers still hurt when I ride dh, any tips for dealing with that?. I just got a one up handlebar but didn't get to try it before the snow fell.
  • 4 0
 Try thicker grips. Also servicing your fork regularly helps
  • 2 0
 The ESI grips were a game changer for me. I use the super chunky's but I have big hands.
  • 4 0
 @tstaudte: It's odd but its the opposite for me. I have large hands and often experienced quite a bit of numbness and pain, especially in my thumbs. I kept trying different medium and large grips and none of them helped much. I read an article on NSMB.com about push on grips so I gave the Renthal super tacky a try. They worked! no thumb pain at all and very rarely do I experience numbness.

For me arm pump and hand pain/numbness is significantly reduced with the following recipe:
Properly tuned fork
Thin push-on grips that are super sticky (loose grip still feels secure)
Strong brakes with large rotors (lighter squeezing)

The strong brakes help tremendously. You get used to using lighter pressure and still retain modulation.
  • 2 1
 Litteraly so many things you can try. Flexibility was the one that really helped me
  • 2 0
 @mtbgeartech: Def agree about the really strong brakes!! I demoed a bike this summer and it had super bad brakes with no stopping power. I had arm pump literally 5 minutes into a short run. Also the other thing that has been a factor has been angle of your brake levers! For me, too flat an angle resulted in rolling my wrists BACK too much, which will totally produce arm pump. Cheers.
  • 4 0
 @tstaudte: I tried so many grips and I kept going bigger and bigger then I realized I need smaller grips (even though everyone said bigger reduces finger pain!) anyway the only thing that stopped my hand pain is a 28mm grip and to get extra padding since the grips were so thin I went with BMX style NON-lock on grips! hope this helps someone out there! Bigger isn't always the way to go!

* I ride ODI longnecks (not lock on)*
  • 2 0
 The one up bars have been great for me so far... just have a handful of rides on them but they're noticeably better on my wrists, hands, and arms. I've combined them with the grips which has helped a lot with some pain on the lateral side of my wrists (outside/pinky side).
  • 1 0
 @tvan5: Ive been wanting to try those one up bars! glad to hear they work. I have a set of vibracore bars in the mail so hopefully those work well !
  • 1 0
 @tvan5: Same here. The claims oneup has made are justified, IMO. I rode mine back to back with my old renthals and the difference was very noticeable.
  • 1 0
 @mtbgeartech: push on grip? Like a normal grip?
  • 1 0
 @iridedj: Yes, Renthal and others call them push on grips as in no locking rings or plastic core. www.renthal.com/cycle/grips/push-on
  • 2 0
 @mtbgeartech: ahh odd name for them, It sure as shit isn't easy to push them on haha.
  • 1 0
 @iridedj: rubbing alcohol is your friend! theyll slide right on! just cant ride till it evaporates..... and thats like 3 hours... lol
  • 1 0
 @MRwillP: definitely! I honestly had some doubts but they really live up to the hype!
  • 1 0
 I used to be a desk jockey writing code with sort wrists..now I sling solar and have joints of steel! Jk but the more you use it the stronger it gets ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • 2 0
 @rockchomper: my favorite is hairspray, when it's dries they are stuck right on like glue.
  • 4 0
 @anyone who had time to listen to the podcast, did he say something about how to deal with the arm-pump problem?
  • 14 2
 @DHani93 Yeah! Surprisingly a high-fiber diet can be effective, along with over-the-counter medications, such as stool softeners. In some cases, a medical procedure to remove the hemorrhoid may be needed to provide relief.
  • 15 0
 @mtbforlife4: dude where the hell do you arms come out from?
  • 3 0
 I listened to it the other day. He basically doesn't have an answer. He feels like it's mainly psychological for him and that his main way to fix it would be to train in more areas that have long descents that get steeper toward the bottom (requiring braking at the bottom). At least that's what I remember of the discussion. He certainly didn't offer up a panacea.
  • 3 0
 I'd recommend having a listen to our recent episode with Laura Robson, the physio for Santa Cruz Syndicate. She talks in more details about armpump and how it's not the same for everyone.
  • 2 0
 @downtimepodcast: that was a really good episode, not just for the physio tips but the story in general. Definitely recommended. I think it’s natural to look out for episodes with the top DH super-stars, but the ones featuring the ‘support cast’ can often be more interesting. Love her accent too, similar ish to Steve Peat’s. thanks for the Downtime podcasts, they’re a great addition to the mtb world!
  • 1 0
 @aps62: thanks, I'm glad you're enjoying them. Yeah, there are some great stories around the sport and they aren't all with the athletes for sure.
  • 1 0
 @mtbforlife4: Dab it with a lite *ag does it for me Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @mtbforlife4: sorry , cigarette Madder
  • 1 0
 I definitely struggle with arm pump, and still do, but one surprising/counter-intuitive thing I have found to help is improving hip mobility, specifically the ability to 'hinge' at the hips. I noticed this after doing a series of after-work rides where my first lap I would feel like my hips were stiff (from sitting in a desk all day), and I would put more weight onto my hands and arms due to my inability to 'hinge' and put more of my weight through my feet. After stretching before my second lap, I noticed it significantly reduced my arm pump when doing laps of the same trail, so I began trying to sneak in some stretches before after work rides or warm up my hips better before descending. This is definitely not a cure all, but I found it helped me!
  • 1 0
 @eblackwell: trying not to hold on so tightly helps to , relaxed hands and arms will make you ride better !
  • 1 0
 Nice podcast. Joe is a great local pro rider, Always nice to see Joe in the pub and he always lets an old guy talk about bikes to him! Smile
  • 1 0
 I'm glad you enjoyed it @notphaedrus
  • 2 0
 Sad to hear he is no longer with Propain.
  • 1 0
 liking this podcast series a lot, keep up the great work
  • 2 0
 cheers @maca1 I'm glad you're enjoying it!
  • 1 0
 @downtimepodcast: I listen to many podcasts during the day both bike and non-bike focused and I have to say, quality of downtime podcast is really nice. Nicely recorded, flows nicely and is overall pleasant.
  • 2 0
 @MrFen: wow, thanks @MrFen I'm really glad that you are enjoying what I'm doing, and I really appreciate your kind words!

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